Jaideep A Prabhu
India’s Love Affair with Book Banning
This article originally appeared in centreright.in. CRI content has now been subsumed in swarajyamag.com. The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of swarajyamag.com

Given the hungama at the currently ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival over Salman Rushdie’s absence, I thought it would be interesting to see which books have been banned in India. I have not been able to find any clear list of books either at the websites of the I&B Ministry, Home Ministry, or Law Ministry and therefore decided to compile a list to the best of my abilities. I have excluded books that were temporarily banned, such as The Price of Power by Seymour Hersh or Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India by James Laine. I am sure there are others I have missed, so please add (with source) books that are currently banned in all or any part of India to this list.

It is indeed shocking to see that books that were banned by the British remain banned in India without any consideration of whether the conditions under which the book was banned decades ago have changed. I feel no need to restate the utter contempt for a censorship regime as the arguments on both sides are quite well-known. As a reminder to our readers, the constitution of India does not grant absolute freedom of expression to its residents. Article 19 (2) states that the freedom of speech and expression as granted in Article 19(1)(a) is subject to limitations:

Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

It is not the purpose of this post to interrogate the philosophical problems associated with this part of the constitution but to merely record the list of banned media as of January 2012. I am also aware that given lax enforcement of the law in India, many of these books and movies may be readily available in India.

Media banned in India –

General principles

Any document, other than an official document dealing with infantry or guerilla tactics, sabotage or the preparation and use of explosives and military weapons. (1944)

Any book, magazine, pamphlet, leaflet, newspaper or other like publication which consists wholly or mainly of stories told in pictures (with or without the addition of written matter), being stories –

(i) portraying the commission of offences; or
(ii) portraying acts of violence or cruelty; or
(iii) portraying incidents of a repulsive or horrible nature; or
(iv) glorifying vice;

in such a way that the publication as a whole would tend to corrupt any person under the age of twenty years into whose hand it might fall (whether by inciting, or encouraging him to commit offences or acts of violence or cruelty or by rendering him irresponsive to the finer side of human nature or to moral values or in any other manner whatsoever). (1955)

Any, newspaper, news-sheet, book or other document containing words, signs or visible representations which are likely to:-

(i) incite or encourage any person to resort to violence or sabotage for the purpose of overthrowing or undermining the Government established by law in India or in
any State thereof its authority in any area; or
(ii) incite or encourage any person to commit murder, sabotage or any offence involving violence; or
(iii) incite or encourage any person to interfere with the supply and distribution of food or other essential commodities or with essential services; or
(iv) seduce any member of any of the armed forces of the Union or of the police forces from his allegiance or his duty or prejudice the recruiting of persons to serve
in any such forces or prejudice the discipline of any such forces; or
(v) promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different sections of the people of India; or
(vi) which are grossly indecent, or scurrilous or obscene or intended for blackmail (1956)

Any newspaper, news sheet, book or other document containing any words, signs or visible representations which undermine or are likely to undermine the friendly relations of India with foreign States (1960)

Any book, periodical, pamphlet, leaflet or any other document containing statements on political issues relating to international affairs emanating from Taiwan which are likely to prejudicially affect friendly relations with any foreign State or any such document containing substantial reproduction of the matter contained therein (1964)

Any book, periodical, pamphlet, leaflet or other document containing any words, signs or visible representations which directly or indirectly question the frontiers of India as declared by the Government or the territorial integrity of the country (1976)



Hindu Heaven, Max Wylie (1934)
The Face of Mother India, Katherine Mayo (1936)
Old Soldier Sahib, Frank Richards (1936)
The Land of the Lingam, Arthur Miles, (1937)
Mysterious India, Moki Singh (1940)
The Scented Garden (Anthropology of the Sex Life in the Levant), Bernhard Stern, translated by David Berger (1945)
What has Religion done for Mankind, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (1955)
Rama Retold, Aubrey Menon (1955)
Dark Urge, Robert W. Taylor (1955)
The Ramayana, Aubrey Menon (1956)
Captive Kashmir, Aziz Beg (1958)
The Heart of India, Alexander Campbell (1959)
The Lotus and the Robot, Arthur Koestler (1960)
Nine Hours to Rama, Stanley Wolpert (1962)
Unarmed Victory, Bertrand Russell (1963)
Nepal, Toni Hagen (1963)
Ayesha, Kurt Frishchler, translated by Norman Denny (1963)
Lady Chatterley’s Lover, D.H. Lawrence (1964)
The Jewel in the Lotus (A Historical Survey of the Sexual Culture of the East), Allen Edwards (1968)
The Evolution of the British Empire and Commonwealth from the Americal Revolution, Alfred Le Ray Burt (1969)
A Struggle between two lines over the question of How to Deal with U.S.Imperialism, Fan Asid-Chu (1969)
Man from Moscow, Greville Wynne (1970)
Early Islam, Desmond Steward (1975)
Nehru – A Political Biography, Michael Edwards (1975)
India Independent, Charles Bettelheim (1976)
China’s Foreign Relations Since 1949, Alan Lawrence (1978)
Who killed Gandhi, Lourenco De Sadvandor (1979)
Understanding Islam through Hadis, Ram Swarup (1982)
Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim, Sunanda Datta-Ray (1984)
The Satanic verses, Salman Rushdie (1988)
Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada, Zuhair Kashmeri & Brian McAndrew (1989)
The Polyester Prince, Hamish McDonald (1998)
The True Furqan, “Al Saffee” and “Al Mahdee” (1999)
Islam – A Concept of Political World Invasion, RV Bhasin (2007 – Maharashtra)
Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India, Joseph Lelyveld (2011 – Gujarat)


Rangila Rasul, Pt. Chamupati (1927)


Angaray, Sajjad Zaheer (1932)
Pakistan-Pasmanzarwa Peshmanzar, Hameed Anwar (1950)
Cease-fire, Agha Baba (1950)
Kkak aur Khoon, Nazim Hajazi (1950)
Chandramohini (1952)
Marka-e-Somnath, Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Hussain Sahab Sadiq Siddiqui Sardanvi (1952)
Hamara Kashmir (newspaper) (1954)
Daily Jang (newspaper) (1963)
Bang (periodical) (1963)


Lajja, Taslima Nasrin (1993)
Dwikhondito, Taslima Nasrin (2003 – West Bengal)


Bhupat Singh, Kaluwank Ravatwank (1954)


Lalkar (weekly) (1971)


Desabhimani (newspaper) (1963)
Theepori (newspaper) (1968)


Behind the Iron Curtain in Kashmir: Neutral Opinion (1949)
The Kashmir Dispute Through Neutral Eyes (1949)
American Military Aid to Pakistan (Its full implication), Salahuddin Ahmed (1954)
The Muslim World – A Weekly Review of the Motamar (1964)
Goan Voice (1964)
Eastern Horizon (1968)
Revolution (1968)
Chinese Literature, No.11/67 and No.12/67 (1969)
The Call (1971)
The Vanguard (1971)
Making the Modern World – Asia – Food and People, Barry Williams (1972)


“Codijah the First and Devoted Wife of Mahomet” written and illustrated by F.Matania, R.I, Britannia and Eve, July 1946 (1946)

Other languages

(Portuguese) Noticias De Portugal – Boletin Semanal Do Secretriado Nacional Da Informacao (bulletin) (1963)
(Korean) Korea News (periodical) (1963)
(Lushai) Ramthar (weekly) (1964)
(Portuguese) Noticia (newspaper) (1966)
(Portuguese) Noticias de Macau (newspaper) (1966)


Nights of Paris (1952)
Nine Hours to Rama (1963)
Kissa Kursi Ka (1970)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)
Ore Oru Gramathile (1987 – Tamil Nadu)
The Bengali Night (1988)
Kutrapathirikkai (1991 but released in 2007 after many cuts)
City of Joy (1992 – West Bengal)
Bandit Queen (1994)
Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996)
Seven Years in Tibet (1997)
Bawandar (2000)
Jang aur Aman by Anand Patwardhan (2002)
Gulabi Aaina (2003)
Paanch (2003)
Final Solution (2004)
Hava Aney Dey (2004)
Amu (2005 but released in 2007 after extensive cuts)
Water (2005)
The Da Vinci Code (2006 – Tamil Nadu, Nagaland, Goa, Andhra Pradesh)
Fanaa (2006 – Gujarat)
Parzania (2007 – Gujarat)
Arakshan (2011 – Uttar Pradesh)
Dam 999 (2011 – Tamil Nadu)
Khankimagi (2011 – Andhra Pradesh)